Retirement: A Perfect State of Being….for the Young!

Several people, mostly in their fifties, have asked me how I like retirement. I can’t tell if the question is prompted by envy or if they’re looking for reassurance that being unemployed isn’t too bad. I assure them that being retired is the best thing that ever happened to me. Sleeping late, I tell them, is one of the benefits. I don’t mention that, after years of waking up at 6:30 a.m., my eyelids refuse to stay closed after that time each morning.

I go on to say that, even though I loved my job, I really don’t miss it. What I don’t tell them is that now I do some of the same things for my former employer (my Temple) for no pay that I used to get paid to do. And of course, I wouldn’t admit that no one forces me to assume those responsibilities. If I had a shrink, she would probably tell me that I do them, because I have this ridiculous idea that I can do them better than anyone else. Or maybe I’m just afraid to let someone else tackle the job and show the world how dispensable I really am.

One of the really great benefits of retirement, I tell the curious, is being able to travel without having to arrange for time off from work far in advance. I don’t elaborate by explaining that, when the airlines or cruise ships offer a fantastic rate for those who can leave the next day, I have to make sure I can get my clothes cleaned and packed in 24 hours-- tasks that are so tiring the only thing I need is a vacation.

To those who ask if my lifestyle has changed at all, I usually maintain that it doesn’t cost as much to live now, one of the reasons being that I don’t have to buy work clothes anymore. Sweats are much less expensive! Of course, I don’t mention that I still find myself drawn to the career clothing section of the department store. I pick through lovely wool suits that these days seem to be more my style than what I was able to find when I worked. Luckily, I usually catch myself before making a purchase when I recall that I have several similar outfits gathering dust in my closet, because I have no place to wear them.

Retirement is lovely, I must admit. I only wish I had been able to experience it 20 years ago when I had the energy to really enjoy it. Maybe that’s what all those 50 something folks are thinking, too.

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